Thursday, July 27, 2006

My Favorite Fruit!


The thing I like about summer is that all my favorite fruits are in season. Strawberries are plentiful, lychee can be found easily, and watermelons are everywhere. As my mom can tell you, my absolute most favorite fruit is the watermelon. I LOVE watermelon. I've eaten so much watermelon in my lifetime and swallowed so many watermelon seeds that I can safely tell children that, in fact, swallowed watermelon seeds do not grow in your belly. That's nothing but a vicious rumor.

Over the last couple years, I've discovered that in fact you can in fact grow brand loyalty for fruits and vegetables. Not just a certain type of onion (like Maui sweet onions). But an actual brand. Why? Because I absolutely believe that Dulcinea Pureheart Seedless Watermelon is THE BEST watermelon ever. I have no idea how they made it (the website claims that it isn't genetically modified), but it's so delicious. It's only slightly more expensive than a seedless watermelon, and it's only slightly smaller, so you're not losing very much in terms of expense. The taste and texture difference is so notably exceptional, especially if you are a watermelon aficionado. I haven't tried their cantaloupe or honeydew melon yet, but I imagine that they also have quite an exquisite taste.

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

What's in a name?

There has been some confusion in the world about how to refer to me since I've gotten married. The bank initially refused to cash checks written out to "Tina Kittle" even though I had a joint account with Joel. I asked if they could just put Tina Kittle down as an alias since I was keeping my last name. They said no. Then, after a bit of fuss, they arbitrarily changed my name on all my accounts to "Tina Pham Kittle" so I could cash checks.

The other day, Joel received a benefits explanation form from his insurance (I got put on his insurance upon marriage) for "Tina Kittle." Now, I'm pretty darn sure that Disney knows what my name is, since I have a fancy Silver Pass with my name on it. I'm also pretty sure that the dentist knows what my name is, since I opened a line of credit with them with the name "Tina Pham" and I never actually told them to change my last name. But the insurance company has me down as "Tina Kittle," which I won't really protest so long as my coverage is good.

I think because I'm not changing my name, this world is confused. The real problem is that there is a social expectation that permeates through to all aspects of my life that Joel and I should have the same name now that we're married. The bank, the insurance, the grocery store, the restaurants.

Now, Joel and I got into a mini-argument the other day when I told him just to add "Kittle" at the end of this membership form we were filling out, or else the thing would be addressed "Mr. and Mrs. Pham" since they didn't ask what my husband's name is. He asked, if I was going to put Tina Pham Kittle down on half the stuff, why I didn't just change my name to that to begin with and simplify matters.

Good question. I did tell Joel that post-wedding, if people referred to me as Mrs. Kittle, I wouldn't correct them. I told him that if he was all right being referred to as Mr. Pham, I'd be okay with Mrs. Kittle. I didn't actually say I would actively use Mrs. Kittle, though, which I think is where he's surprised.

I did think for a bit about what last name to go with before getting married (though I became way more reflective about this post-wedding when people started addressing me as Tina Kittle) and this is what I came up with.

1. People who meet me first and Joel second will know what my full name is. If they think of him as Mr. Pham, then that's Joel's problem and not mine. People to whom Joel introduces me to as his wife will most likely always know me as Joel's wife first, to which Mrs. Kittle is appropriate. I can respond to both in social situations and no one will think it weird.

2. Okay, yes, we live in a patriarchal society where my last original last name derives from my father and what's the difference between having my father's name and my husband's? My parents raised me and to just totally change my family name seems a little disrespectful to all their hard work. Plus, when they named me, they probably thought long and hard about what name went well with the last name Pham, not a good all-purpose name that could be paired with most names.

3. What if we have kids and I'll have a different last name from my kids? First, no one knows what Joel and I will decide to do about that so that assumption is based on status quo, which had dictated that I change my name. If my kids are [Name] Pham Kittle, then they'll have both our last names. End of issue. Second, in the Vietnamese culture, women don't leave their family names behind and adopt their husband's name when they marry. It's definitely an adopted Western custom. I have many cousins whose moms' names are different from theirs and they don't seem to care. Neither do my aunts. I have a couple cousins growing up who wish their last name was Pham, but other than that they were unaffected by their moms having different last names.

4. I didn't want to get all new IDs, passports, credit cards, etc. Think about that DMV line. Not worth it.

5. I'm used to the name. Tina Pham is my name. I grew up with it. I have degrees that say "Tina Pham." If Joel's not changing his name, why should I?

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Only in LA...

Tonight Joel and I went to the movies at our very favorite movie theater, the Arclight. On the way there, we were discussing the merits of living in Vancouver (yes, as in CANADA) versus Los Angeles. Now, I don't actually know much about Vancouver besides hearing that it's a beautiful coastal city and it's in Canada. But I have lived in LA for a number of years so I do know a lot about Los Angeles. Plus in one of my jobs I'm working on promoting Los Angeles culture. While LA has its downsides (smog, miserably hot summers, et al), there are things that can happen only in LA.

This is all based on personal experience. In the number of years I have lived here, only in LA could these following things happen:
  • My friend almost ran over Brad Pitt while leaving a parking lot.
  • One of our favorite bartenders is now in national television commercials.
  • I had to push Matthew McCanaughey out of the way to use the bathroom at Tom Bergin's (I swear he was blocking the ladies' room on purpose).
  • I exclaim, loud enough for Kiefer Sutherland to hear, that he couldn't possibly be Kiefer at a bar.
  • My dog was "discovered" while hiking at Runyon Canyon for a national television commercial.
  • We now regularly look for friends' names in end credits of major (and some minor) movies.

Tonight was no exception to the rule. I swear, only in LA could this happen. We arrived at the Arclight to watch Cars, dismayed to find that there was a film premiere there at the Arclight's Dome. Yup, a premiere. For Clerks 2. In Hollywood. Yeah, like lots of people taking pictures of stars, probably there was a red carpet. Go figure. It didn't affect us too much, except for the parking situation. While we were finishing dinner at the Arclight, who should be seated at the next table over to us but Kevin Smith and his wife. Joel dared me to ask how writing Aquaman 2 was going, but I didn't want to interrupt the man while he was dining with such a random question (anybody get the reference?). But I was very interested to know what his reaction would have been. I don't know if I'll see Clerks 2, I've seen every other Kevin Smith movie like a good Gen-X, slacker generation person should.

So Mr. Smith, I didn't interrupt you over dinner, but if you somehow made it on to my blog, how's Aquaman 2 working out?

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

4th of July: 2 Recipes to Share!

Joel and I had friends over yesterday to watch TV and fireworks yesterday. Everyone loved the sangria and I loved the rotini salad that I made. So here are the recipes to share.

Sangria
(This is an approximate recipe - I've never bothered to actually measure out what I'm doing.)
1 bottle (750 mL) of red wine
1-2 cups of brandy, or to taste
1 liter of orange soda
2 cups frozen berries (plus any other fruits you'd like to add)

Mix all together. Chill.

Rotini Salad
1 box (16 oz.) rotini
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. black pepper
4 Tbsp. capers
1 can artichoke hearts (quartered)
12 oz. cherry tomatoes (quartered)
1 cup finely chopped basil
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
1 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water.

Prepare the dressing by combining pasta cooking water, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and peppers. Mix well and set aside.

Combine remaining ingredients, pasta, and dressing; toss gently. Serve warm or cold.

The original recipe that I worked off was off the Barilla box, but I didn't really want to add tuna, and I HATE olives, so I doctored the recipe a bit, and it was so tasty!

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